Smart Building Automation Evolution

Timeline linking articles depicting our evolution as an industry Curated by Ken Sinclair & Therese Sullivan.

Reflects back to 1900 but actively starts with birth of DDC in the mid 1970. Starting in about 1999, leading Building Automation professionals were early collaborators in the effort to put real time data in service to better interior comfort and energy efficiency. They recognized their role as catalysts of this paradigm shift and set to work aligning all the necessary people, processes and technologies. Here's a timeline of their achievements. All the thought-leadership articles, commercial announcements, and press releases used to compile this timeline were found in the database of the online magazine

oBIX Unbound: Web Services Standard Complete

Aaron Hansen, Chairman of the oBIX XML Standards subcommittee and Tridium spokesperson, reports that the standard is available for public review. He explains that oBIX is much more than just a way to describe points, historical trends and alarms. “It is an extensible model that describes other models - a meta-model. oBIX allows control vendors to fully describe their proprietary systems and allow enterprises to discover non-standard data and invent new applications for it.” Read Hansen’s description of the oBIX Architecture.


In 1999 the communications protocol (then known as LonTalk) was submitted to ANSI and accepted as a standard for control networking (ANSI/CEA-709.1-B). Echelon's power line and twisted pair signaling technology was also submitted to ANSI for standardization and accepted. Since then, ANSI/CEA-709.1 has been accepted as the basis for IEEE 1473-L (in-train controls), AAR electro-pneumatic braking systems for freight trains, IFSF (European petrol station control), SEMI (semiconductor equipment manufacturing), and in 2005 as EN 14908 (European building automation standard). The protocol is also one of several data link/physical layers of the BACnet ASHRAE/ANSI standard for building automation.

Death of the Controls Industry

Darren Wright, a Director at Arup, has released a video stream of his presentation on the history and future of the controls industry on youtube. It’s a very on-point statement on the topic from the viewpoint of an experienced building commissioning expert. His understanding of the development of control automation goes all the way back to ancient Greece, but he quickly advances to what is happening now—and that is open source control software. He predicts radical change in how controls are designed, installed and maintained over the life of a building, and when he says ‘Death of the Controls Industry,’ he means that part of the industry that relies on proprietary-protocol lock-in to limit the options of building owners and their partners in design, construction, operations and maintenance. As a further demonstration of its commitment to open-source building controls communities, Arup has just joined Project-Haystack as an Associate member. Here are a few key points from Darren Wright’s presentation:

A History of KNX

Getting Started (1990 – 1992) The History of Success began on the 5th of May, 1990 in Brussels, Belgium • 15 well-known European manufacturers of the electrical industry founded the European Installation Bus Association EIBA KNX Association International Page No. 3 April 13 KNX: The worldwide STANDARD for home & building control • Their idea was to make electronic installations with Bus Technology fit for the future

What is the Internet of Things?

In 1999 Kevin Ashton, then at P&G, coined the term ‘Internet of Things’. It was a new term, but not a new operation. It was known as pervasive computing, ubicomp, and ambient intelligence. The 90s database storage was too expensive. It is the Cloud, operational from 2000s, that enables #IoT. Buildings, cars, consumer products, and people become information spaces. We were entering a land where the environment became the interface, where we must learn anew how to make sense. Making sense is the ability to read data as data and not noise. Still this is the challenge we face today.  Why would we want an Internet of Things? We want it because it can offer us the best possible feedback on physical and mental health, the best possible resource allocation based on real time monitoring, best possible decision making on mobility patterns and the best possible alignments of local providers with global potential. Operationally this means that we can define Internet of Things as the seamless flow between the BAN (body area network): wearables, LAN (local area network): smart home, WAN (wide area network): connected car, and VWAN (very wide area network): the smart city.

Digital Addressable Lighting Interface

Digital Addressable Lighting Interface (DALI) is a trademark for network-based systems that control lighting in building automation. The underlying technology was established by a consortium of lighting equipment manufacturers as a successor for 0-10 V lighting control systems, and as an open standard alternative to Digital Signal Interface (DSI), on which it is based. DALI is specified by technical standards IEC 62386 and IEC 60929. Standards conformance ensures that equipment from different manufacturers will interoperate. The DALI trademark is allowed on devices that comply with the current standards when manufactured. Members of the AG DALI (founded by Philips lighting in 1984) were freely allowed to use the DALI trademark until DALI working party was dissolved on 30th March 2017[1]. Since 9th June 2017, Digital Illumination Interface Alliance (DiiA) certifies DALI equipment[2]. DiiA is a Partner Program of IEEE-ISTO.

Modbus is a serial communications protocol

Modbus From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Modbus is a serial communications protocol originally published by Modicon (now Schneider Electric) in 1979 for use with its programmable logic controllers (PLCs). Modbus has become a de facto standard communication protocol and is now a commonly available means of connecting industrial electronic devices.[1] The main reasons for the use of Modbus in the industrial environment are: developed with industrial applications in mind, openly published and royalty-free, easy to deploy and maintain, moves raw bits or words without placing many restrictions on vendors. Modbus enables communication among many devices connected to the same network, for example, a system that measures temperature and humidity and communicates the results to a computer. Modbus is often used to connect a supervisory computer with a remote terminal unit (RTU) in supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems. Many of the data types are named from its use in driving relays: a single-bit physical output is called a coil, and a single-bit physical input is called a discrete input or a contact. The development and update of Modbus protocols has been managed by the Modbus Organization[2] since April 2004, when Schneider Electric transferred rights to that organization.[3] The Modbus Organization is an association of users and suppliers of Modbus-compliant devices that advocates for the continued use of the technology.[4]

Change Agents Impacting Building & Facility Management

IoT I would be remiss if I did not mention IoT. IoT continues as a game changer; it is changing what we are delivering---how, when and where. However, realizing its potential starts with understanding the value and contribution it brings. IoT is as much about behavioral changes and business opportunity, not just technology. We need to operate and manage buildings based on outcomes, not output. IoT is not the objective of this transformation but the platform upon which to connect, collect and analyze data so we can measure and validate these outcomes. Building owners and operators should not “buy” IoT; they should purchase solutions to specific problems where IoT components are part of a solution. Data “The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data.” -The Economist Customers are looking for faster, real-time analysis of the massive amount of data produced to perform smart decision-making. We are in an era where data technologies and analytics enable us to capture data from different sources including behavioral data, make it consistent and meaningful and use it across multiple applications. When it comes to data, the data produced from a device is now more valuable than the cost of the device. The use of data is now mandatory and no longer optional; if you aren’t collecting, storing, using, and learning from data, then you are not doing your job.

20 year index with connection to over 200 back issues

A second Timeline of our over 210 issue online from 1999. It is interesting how long we have been talking about some of this stuff

The IoT Future of Building Automation

Future automation will be a full embrace of IoT. Systems will be smarter, self-learning, edgy, innovative, and sophisticated. They will automatically configure and integrate new equipment so they can optimize themselves, self-manage and self-heal while reinventing purposeful, productive, desirable buildings and accommodations. Ken SinclairIt has been an amazing year of change. I am overwhelmed by the number of balls I have thrown in the air. AutomatedBuildings does not create change but is a catalysis and harbinger of change. It has been a time when the industry has wanted to shoot us as the messenger but is now coming to the realization and confirmation that IoT is for sure the future of Building Automation. IoT changes everything, embedding in our future the ability to hostel the people that fuel function, purpose, productivity, and innovation. New metrics will evolve, new IoT measured variables from the data from our buildings such as well-being, satisfaction, stress, innovation and contribution to corporate purpose, of course, comfort and energy efficiency are major factors but no longer the only parameters. The lighting LED revolution brings us the new tools to allow a closer personal relationship with light; it's color, it's art and amazing effects on the new metrics. This revolution coupled with our much talked about self-learning edge revolution sees every lighting fixture and air conditioning outlet becoming a self-learning device with automated interaction from the resident occupant's mobile device when detected. As the millenniums move out of mom's basement, university's dorms, coffee shops, and free wi-fi zones, it is their time. When they are requested to appear in the corporate cubical, they are questioning the purpose, location, and function of our existing buildings. If I am coming to this central big city location should it not look more like a hotel hostel? If in fact, the corporate is willing to house me at a hotel why would I not just work from there?. Why does the business office not look more like a hotel or a condo providing multi-functions including my well-being and environmental impact on the world? Why do I need to come daily to this environment with virtual tools all around us? The kids ask excellent questions and are leading a revolution within our revolution.

What is Sedona -- a language, a protocol, a framework, a town in Arizona?

Actually it is all of the above! The best way to describe Sedona is as a complete "platform" to speed the development of smart, networked devices such as I/O controllers. As a platform it includes several components: Programming Language: a simple Java-like language used to create your application logic and define new function block components Standard Library: of APIs and predefined function block components to speed development of new functionality Virtual Machine: to efficiently execute software developed in the Sedona programming language on different hardware devices that might use various microprocessors or operating systems (or have no operating system) Sox Protocol: a simple UDP/IP protocol to provision and configure devices What is Sedona used for? Sedona is essentially a ready-to-use software platform which is designed to be easily added to a networked device to give it smarts. The Sedona software can be used to augment existing software or be the primary software application on a device. Out-the-box, the Sedona Framework can be used to: provide a control engine to execute traditional function block control logic enable network connectivity for reprogramming that logic enable network connectivity to configure devices (such as modify setpoints, modes, etc) enable network connectivity to update firmware and software modules provide software framework to develop new protocol stacks and applications Is Sedona open and what does that mean to potential users? Control Solutions, Inc Sedona is "open" in the sense that all the intellectual property is licensed under a flexible "academic styled" open source license, the AFL 3.0. As an open source platform, vendors have full access to all the source code

The History of the Historian

More than anyone wants to know about the historian who created this timeline

BAS-IP Missing link

David Lamarche of CAN2GO observes “Sometimes, industries take strange routes. The separation of HVAC and lighting control is one of them. Despite the lack of any technical or customer satisfaction rationale behind it, HVAC and lighting are still being installed separately, on parallel systems.” His article is about the integration of diverse applications and systems via flexible controllers/gateways.

Addressable Lighting Controls

Terry Mocherniak of Encelium Technologies writes about how addressable dimming systems specifically designed for energy management are gaining widespread adoption. He writes, “Today’s economy and new federal, local and state government mandates are now challenging commercial and public buildings to operate lean and green in terms of costs and sustainability, respectively. As a result, projections indicate that energy-efficient lighting products will make up over three-quarters of the U.S. lighting market by 2020.”

Open Sedona Evolution

This review provides further connection to this evolution and links to the history of how and why Sedona is leading a new generation of edge-devices that come tagged, preconfigured, and with a programmable control language can be can be reconfigured by open software. In Alper's article Energy Analytics Controllers he states; Anyone designing an IoT architecture must decide which tasks are best performed locally by a device at the network’s edge versus remotely by a cloud-hosted application. Within the IT world, an edge device is defined as a gateway or global controller. Within the building automation world, a direct digital controller (DDC) can be considered an edge controller. Likewise, a global controller is an edge controller. Physically, the network’s edge might be integrated into roof-top equipment, solar arrays, utility-owned equipment, data center infrastructure, etc. The EAC marks a new generation of edge-device in that they will come with tagged, preconfigured apps to automate the workloads typical at these edge locations. In this article; Contemporary Controls, a Sedona Framework Community member, has developed the Sedona Application Editor (SAE) which allows graphical development of control applications for Sedona devices

Growing our only Asset our People

I just returned from a very successful AHRExpo in Chicago. Read my review of this record breaking show of over 62,000 attendees, 10 acres of exhibits, from over 130 countries. This all flies in the face of the digital world and the Internet of Things replacing good old face to face interaction and networking. So what was my take away from this massive show? People are our only asset, technology may come and go but at the core of the industry is the same people that have been there for years. The problem is these core people are growing older and much of the discussion at this record breaking event was that we all need to plant new people, nourish them, and help them grow. All of our education sessions also returned the conclusion that people are the only assets. Your company's and industry's technologies may come and go but the people are our only true asset that remain and recreates and keeps the industry strong. This greatly increases the importance of the induction of new blood, younger folks with IoT smarts into our industry. If we are to build on our existing assets, the people, then we need to invest in education and transfer of the knowledge of our assets. We need to look new talent as a investment that can greatly increase our existing assets. These new folks to our industry will likely not have the necessary training and will need to quickly jump the skills gap and a lot of discussion occurred about this in Chicago. The general conclusion is that the requirement of the incoming folks is one that they need to be curious and have an unbridled desire to learn and are prepared to fail early then relearn quickly. The word younger implies that they have grown up in an IoT world which gives them a different view on how they will learn. They need access to our existing assets, the valuable knowledge locked in the older minds of our industry, but we yet have not devised the best method of this knowledge transfer.

Where Clouds Will Reign in BAS

Toby Considine provided the buildings automation industry with one of its earliest and best definitions of what would become known as ‘Cloud Services.’ In this August 2008 article, he explained “Cloud Computing is a name for putting computing services, whether traditional, such as CRM applications, or modern, such as SaaS, on computers up in the wider network.” He begins the article by referencing Dennis Brandl, who writes in the nearby field of factory control systems. “For Brandl, nearly everything is in the Cloud; only the core control processes are on the ground. I think this is right; for buildings, only the core processes, those elements on the traditional low voltage protocols such as BACnet and LON, are on the ground.Enterprise energy monitoring and building control, then, are in the low lying cumulus clouds. A well architected system does not put the EMCS center in the center of any control loops. TCP/IP is by design a non-deterministic protocol, meaning it does not belong inside a control loop. Anything off the ground is in the Cloud. Anything in the clouds should interact using internet protocols”

Navigating & Searching

Navigation tips; use the timeline at the bottom to move through time. Push the 3d button in the left corner to fly though all the posts even faster. Each post includes a link to the full article.

Information Model: The Key to Integration

Eric Craton and Dave Robin of Automated Logic Inc. point out the need to adopt XML and Web Services Architecture for building information modeling in this article. It was a call to action: "If we do not take control of the data presentation of our dynamic information, the IT Industry will."

Building on BACnet©

This interview with George Thomas, President, Contemporary Controls, provides this industry leader’s perspective on connecting BAS devices to an IP infrastructure. Thomas reports that many Contemporary Controls’ customers are BAS contractors that must act as both the IT staff and system integrator for smaller buildings and school districts when they receive maintenance contracts from the building owner. He explains, “They cannot be experts in all disciplines, so we help out by providing the tools and the equipment necessary to connect BAS products to an IP infrastructure consisting of unmanaged and managed switches, media converters, and IP routers utilizing twisted-pair and fiber optic cabling. Even if an IT department is involved, it is best to be able to communicate to them in their language. They are not going to understand building controls and protocols like BACnet, but you need to be able to explain to them why you need fixed IP addresses and remote access. If you use their terminology, you may gain an ally.”

Mobile Carriers Eye Building Automation

Therese Sullivan, blogger at, scans the headlines, listens to the Silicon Valley conference buzz, and reads the analyst reports to put together reports like this one on Mobile Network Operators’ push into M2M services for the Connected Building. Carriers have pushed into new businesses like cellular M2M (machine-to-machine) networking services, in part to compensate for the business revenue they've lost to Internet companies providing instant messaging and voice-over-internet protocol (VOIP) calling for free. The business case in M2M for the MNO is easy to make: they might only be able to charge pennies per connection for an M2M deployment — compared to an Average Revenue Per Connection of up to $50 for person-to-person — but, the high volume of connections and low bandwidth requirements justify their costs in maintaining the back-end system for application development partners.

DC Power in Buildings

Jim Sinopoli, Smart Buildings LLC, first recaps the history of AC and DC power and then takes a look at the use of distributed DC power in buildings in his timely article on currents. “With the large number of DC-powered devices in buildings, and with DC -powered renewable energy sources now utilized in many newer structures, it seems pragmatic and sensible to work towards the elimination of DC-toAC conversion waste and thus toward maximizing the use of DC power generated by renewables.

Lesson in Clouds

Nirosha Munasinghe, Contributing Editor and Product Developer at Open General, examines the differences and correlations between the services commonly labeled ‘web application’ and ‘cloud computing.’ The two are highly correlated components, but the definitions must be differentiated to better understand cloud computing. According to Nirosha, “Cloud computing is lending a service as per user requirements, and the web application is the platform on which the service is being used. Typically a web application - for example, a building management system - requires middleware to transform it into true cloud architecture.” He makes an important distinction and puts together a great lesson in cloud services with clear illustrations. A terrific tutorial!

A Vision for Connection Communities

Andy McMillan, President of BACnet International, opines on what distinguishes a Connection Community from “just” a community? He writes, “Throughout my professional life I’ve found great value in being an active part of communities that share my challenges, interests and aspirations. Many of them are known by their acronyms (e.g. ASHRAE, ESD, IEEE, ASAE …) and all of them provide opportunities for education, service, and networking. They typically deliver those benefits through conferences, publications, standards activities and trade shows while largely working independently of each other. In my opinion, this approach to professional community is outdated. We need to move on. With the growth of social media and a corresponding change in our collective expectations around personal interactions, significant changes are coming that will transform professional communities into what we will call for this column, ‘Connection Communities.’”

BAS Cyber Risks

Marc Petock of Lynxspring makes the point that a comprehensive cyber security program is needed to protect building automation systems and all connected devices such as thermostats, HVAC equipment, access control, elevators and lighting controls. Just like IT networks, BAS networks should have multiple layers of defense and protection as well as policies and procedures that are continuously addressed. Petock encourages property owners, technology contractors responsible for systems integration, and facilities managers to make the business case for investing in security.

Revolutionary Automation Trends in Large Buildings

In May 2001, Ken assembled 11 trends that he saw were catalysts for the rapid evolution of large Buildings Automation. To provide more detail on those trends, he extracted and edited content from articles published on the web site. The list presented in this article provides reference to each key article so if you wish more insight you can read the complete article.

Ownership of the Collaboratory

Ken Sinclair introduces the March 2014 edition by again reminding us of what “a collaboratory" is, and is not. In his editorial he writes, “More than an elaborate collection of information and communications technologies; it is a new networked organizational form that also includes social processes; collaboration techniques; formal and informal communication; and agreement on norms, principles, values, and rules” (Cogburn, 2003, p. 86).

Realizing the Connection Community

In this interview, B. Scott Muench of J2 Innovations explains why he made the switch from standing on the podium as a Tridium corporate Director speaking at the Niagra Summit to jumping into a start-up: “Looking out over the crowd of nearly 1000 individuals that were part of the Niagara Community, it was an awe inspiring moment, one of those rare moments in one’s life where it all seems to have come together. It became perfectly clear for the first time that it was not about Tridium, but it was about the community and all those who contributed to making it so great. As I sat atop the Red Rock resort later that night, I knew that my next step was to become part of that community. It’s a great story and a great interview.

ASHRAE 2012 Observations

Jack McGowan comes back from the conference with a clear idea of the trends that will be impactful in 2012. 1) New construction will not recover, thus retrofits will remain the focus and project creativity is key. 2) Electricity Capital will continue to be a growing force in funding projects through Demand Response, Rebates and Market based programs as well as on-bill financing, etc. 3) The lines will continue to blur between traditional automation / DDC, Visualization tools or dashboards, Analytics, Metering, Energy Management and Maintenance tools. This will continued to be enabled, at least in part, by the growing number of platforms, frameworks, etc., but also by manufacturer’s efforts to consolidate and differentiate.

Project Haystack

John Petze, SkyFoundry, announces a new open source initiative to develop tag naming conventions and taxonomies for the modeling of building equipment and operational data. He observes, “With all of the power they have gained over the last decade, most building automation systems provide poor semantic modeling of the operational data they contain. The systems provide us with a name and a value but little other information about the specific item. The result is that a labor intensive, process is typically required to "map" the data before any analytics can begin. With millions of points in thousands of systems out there - those point names are not going to change - we need a standardized model for applying meta-data to enable us to associate meaning with those point names.

BACnet in AutstalAsia

This interview with Jim Henry, Founder and current chairman of the BACnet Interest Group – AustralAsia (BIG-AA), recounts high interest in the standard through the Asia-Pacific countries. Henry reports that in 1999, Alerton, Automated Logic, Delta, and Simplex cooperated to put on a full day forum on BACnet, at which both Mike Newman and Steve Bushby, (respectively, the then Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the BACnet committee) gave lectures. BIG-AA members followed up with lot of presentations to consultants and large clients. Recently, he made trips to Korea, Japan and China in response BACnet momentum there.

Connection Communities: Definition

The open-platform building automation world is essentially a collection of communities devoted to making connections - both figuratively and literally. ‘Connection Communities’ as a simple descriptor and rallying cry was an idea that came to Ken Sinclair and Marc Petock at the 2012 AHR Conference in Dallas. In this November article, Ken provides an expansive list of many of the ‘Connection Communities’ that are participating in delivering Intelligent Buildings. He includes links and summary articles from many of the leaders of those communities expressing their opinions about the concept. In addition, there is a link to a Presentation illustrating how the various communities have interacted and evolved together. At the 2014, AHR Conference in New York City a sit-down meeting was held with representatives of the Connection Communities. A video of that meeting is available by clicking on that 2014 post.

Wireless Networking Comes of Age

2012 was when wireless actually worked. This issue in evolutionary statement on wireless at the time including articles from wireless solution providers like Adura, CAN2Go, Daintree Networks, EnOcean Alliance, the S4 Group, KMC Controls, among others.

Local History of our DDC Industry

Several British Columbia start-ups that are now highly successfully international companies owe their start to a team of visionaries, who were focused and were resolved to get high performance controls in BC I was recently reminded of the fun we had in the past helping create the Direct Digital Control industry in British Columbia. It was the best of time with the best of folks. It was a revolutionary time when the building automation industry was just starting to evolve from pneumatics to the newly rapidly evolving microprocessors and the concepts of DDC. The solutions were many and everyone was working on their next big thing. These recently evolved DDC solutions needed to be organized into substantial products and the then British Columbia Buildings Corporation (BCBC), a crown company wanted to buy this local technology but needed to change traditional purchase policies while including and helping grow the traditional building automation industries. BCBC's Jack Meredith, Director, Technical Value, Tom Hartman, Hartman Company, myself and a few others, focused on the concept of a Operator Control Language "OCL" which was an enabler for us all to achieve Hartman's dreams while solving a myriad of existing building operational problems.

HTML for Building O&M

Any building with a DDC system that has a computer workstation interface has all that is needed to begin using HyperText Markup Language (HTML) for Operations & Maintenance documentation. This article explores the advantages of making that change as soon as possible, introducing the concepts of linking, searching, remote access, mixing graphics and text, password security, etc.

BuilConn and the Buildy Awards

The BuilConn Forum was launched to bring together a new breed of specialized industry professional: the System Integrator. System Integrators combine the power of many computer-based systems in buildings with Information Technology (IT), the Internet and Web Services to increase occupant comfort and productivity. System Integrators apply sophisticated digital hardware, while creating and programming software to make “Convergence” possible. An awards program associated with Builconn, The Buildy, was organized to recognize the best in Integrated and Interoperable buildings. In 2004, The Summit Building located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, won the Best Integration Project Buildy Award.

CABA Intelligent & Integrated Buildings Council

Barriers to the growth of the building automation industry were identified in a document known as the Technology Roadmap for Intelligent Buildings researched by the Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA). In 2002, as a direct result of this roadmap, a number of Canadian government departments funded the formation of the Intelligent & Integrated Buildings Council (IIBC), and put it under the management of CABA. The IIBC started with a core group of about 15 members, and grew to include some 170 members working in 5 Task Forces by mid 2004. Task Force achievements by that time included publishing a Building Control Network Protocols whitepaper and a Best-Practices Guide for Evaluating Intelligent Building Technologies. Another team was tasked with developing a Life Cycle Costs Analysis Tool. In the August 2004 interview with IIBC leader Thomas J. Lohner, a VP of TENG Solutions, more can be learned about IIBC activities and progress. In the November 2005 article he updates the IIBC vision regarding Valuation Tools.

Online Training & Education Effort Launched

As reported by Ken Sinclair, the challenge of keeping up with all the new IT and Communications technologies impacting the job of the buildings automation/control system integration professional is confounding a percentage of the industry. and Engineered Systems magazine committed to working toward freely providing educational content digitally. What they have to learn to understand today's Building Automation industry is written on a curve that appears as a wall layered with every control technology we have ever invented. Without reference to how we came to be here it is just that, a wall. The last layer may be the only chance we have of explaining ourselves. Information Technology or IT solutions abound and everyone must learn the power of browser-based presentation to move forward. The ability of browser-based media to allow us to move in multi directions rapidly at our own pace is the tool we need to analyze the information wall.

Ethernet: the Common Thread

Jason Sprayberry, Digi International, compares Ethernet to “a phoenix rising from the ashes” to solve the interoperability challenges of integrators faced with adding legacy equipment like protocols, mediums and connectors to a new building automation architecture. He writes, “Ethernet is a low cost, high speed, widely deployed, universally accepted medium for local area and wide area networks. When layered on top the TCP/IP protocol, you have the initial ingredients of an open, more easily integrated system.” His article covers the perceived shortcomings of Ethernet for building automation and the ways some device server vendors are equipping their products to overcome these connectivity concerns.

Visualizations Make the Invisible, Visible

Sarah Erdman of QA Graphics explains the key role computer visualizations are playing in easing interpretation of critical equipment operational data, enabling centralizing monitoring of equipment across a building or campus, engaging occupants and other stakeholders in sustainability features of a green building, and presenting building performance data in a creative way that people can relate to and engage with, encouraging behavioral change toward energy saving.

‘Open’: Definitions

Nirosha Munasinghe of Open General starts his words of caution to the BAS industry with this observation: ‘Open’ is the most fundamental key word that has driven the BAS industry over the last decade and will continue to drive it in the future. Open standards, open protocols, open architecture and open web are some of the key concepts in the BAS industry. He goes on to unveil the intricacies of the word ‘Open’ in the BAS industry and defines key elements that stakeholders need to be aware of when interpreting the word as it is used in responses to Requests for Proposal, system specifications and work orders.

Open, Interoperable Lighting Controls

Committed to rallying the lighting industry around interoperability, ZigBee Alliance member Daintree Networks pens this article about how to correct for over-lighting. Lighting controls are an energy savings opportunity and can also enable participation in load shedding and utility demand-response programs, avoiding costly peak-energy charges and in some cases qualifying the building owner for financial incentives.

Controlling for Comfort

Thomas Hartman was one of the pioneers in the development and implementation of control algorithms for the effective monitoring of space conditions in all areas served by a VAV zone. He recognized early that it was essential to permit occupants to register comfort preferences for multiple office "subzones." He recommended that a temperature sensor be installed in every separate occupied space within any building and that a method of control be implemented that recognizes and incorporates the space temperature of all occupied spaces in the operation of the HVAC system. He was among the first to explain that this approach pays off big in terms of comfort enhancement. Prior to the advent of network-based controls, system integrators could not employ more than a single temperature sensor for each terminal zone. The web and network-based controls changed that paradigm.

Your Building is An Enterprise

Brian Jones, of the S4 Group, writes about integrating IT infrastructure (hubs, routers, switches, UPS systems, etc.) with non-IT services such as building automation, factory automation, and process control systems. He illustrates that such convergence increases efficiency, improves quality and decreases costs in areas which have not been part of integrated enterprise business processes. His article examines the integration process.

Marketing Convergence

Ken Sinclair teams with Jack McGowen and Anto Budiardjo of Clasma Inc. in the creation of a special digital publication about ‘Marketing Convergence.’ They write: “We cannot wait until convergence occurs and then get involved with how it gets marketed, because it will be too late; the marketing plan will not include our industry. Our industry's presence in creating a marketing convergence plan changes everything. We as an industry bring new concepts and tools to the convergence table in the form of "real time information." Our industry's business is collecting, acting on, and distributing real time data such as temperature, pressures, energy usage, client comfort, humidity, IAQ, video, security card ID’s. As an industry we are just starting to grasp the concept of how this realtime data converges with our clients' information enterprise. Our clients are also just starting to discover how information that is presented easily (and anywhere) can be extremely useful for enterprise growth and for staying competitive.

Over 100 LinkedIn articles & posts

Education sessions and outreach depicting industry shifts shared with over 13.300 followers

oBIX Launch

In April 2003 at BuilConn in Dallas, Texas, the XML/Web Services Guideline Committee - started the work that is now known as oBIX. oBIX stands for Open Building Information Xchange, and it is an industry-wide initiative to define XML- and Web Services-based mechanisms to present building systems-related information on TCP/IP networks such as the Internet. Read the December 2003 interview with Paul Ehrlich, Chairman of the oBIX committee at the time, to understand why the buildings automation community launched this initiative.

Home Automation Impacts Building Automation

Paul Ehrlich, Ira Goldschmidt & Angela Lewis of the Building Intelligence Group are foresighted in their January 2013 prediction that the Silicon Valley company Nest Labs - though seemingly focused on the residential and light commercial space only - was poised to disrupt, or at least shake up, the commercial building products industry. Ehrlich writes, “ I was recently talking to a client about updating their building automation system, only to have him pull out his phone and explain how the new system needed to work like his Nest Thermostat at home. He went on to explain how you can readily change setpoints, schedules, and even view usage from anywhere. This may very well be the genesis of the next disruptive technology for commercial building automation.”

The Edge of VOLTTRON’s Sword

The pillars of this new platform are flexibility - for a varied set of solution spaces, and usability - easily accessible to both users and developers. The software stack is available free on GitHub to put onto a small form factor computer and create your very own “edge device.” Back in 2010, as part of the “Future Power Grid Initiative” project, a team from The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) set out to develop a software platform for the Smart Grid. Specifically, the platform would enable transactions between electric vehicle chargers and the grid so the homeowner and the utility could benefit from the energy stored in a parked car battery. At the time, no existing platform was available that met the security or resource management requirements for such a use case. In 2013, version 1.0 of the platform was demonstrated in an instrumented house with an EV. It was at around this time that the team broadened the goals of the software project, made it open source, and gave it a name: VOLTTRON. “VOLTTRON [would now] independently manage a wide range of applications, such as HVAC systems, electric vehicles, distributed energy or entire building loads, leading to improved operational efficiency.” Any good robot would do the same, of course.

Microsoft ROC Proves the Case for Big Data

Microsoft took an “Internet of Things meets Big Data” approach to achieving energy savings and other efficiency gains across its headquarters campus in Redmond, Washington, and Darrell Smith, Director of Energy and Building Technology for Microsoft’s Real Estate and Facilities group, led the charge. In this interview with Ken Sinclair, Smith describes the Redmond Operations Center (ROC) that he oversees this way, “We are connected to two million data “points” across 35,000 building assets, and over a 24 hour period, we collect 500 Million data transactions every day.” Smith’s team with assistance from Microsoft data scientists and programmers invented a data-driven software solution that is slashing the cost of operating the campus’ 125 buildings and that he’ll soon be deploying across Microsoft’s global portfolio. Ken asks Darrell specific questions about the complexities of integration at this scale and about the on-boarding process. The interview gives a building automation specialist perspective on the project you won’t find anywhere else.

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